January 29, 2010

Kanata Canada

Canada is lovely this time of year. No, seriously, it is. See, I just got back from a recent trip to Ottawa. Well, technically I was in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Yes, that's Kanata, Canada.

This is Ottawa:

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Generally speaking, that whole area is due north of the bitterly cold place that is upstate New York. So I expected it to be bitterly cold and then some.

Only it wasn't cold. It was balmy. And rainy. And practically warm. Until yesterday.

Yesterday was the day I flew home. Yesterday, the temperature in Ottawa dropped from the high 30s into the low teens and kept falling. Yesterday, a freakish wind sprang up to blow a light snowfall into a frenzy. It stopped traffic and sent blinding flurries sideways through gray skies. The snow stopped eventually. But not the wind. It made for an interesting view through the two-story windows at the airport terminal. Gorgeous sunset up top, all pink and glowy and peaceful. Furious storm down below, with swirling eddies of snow so dense you couldn't make out the planes at the end of the gangways.

Weird. And for a woman with a massive flight phobia, totally unnerving.

So I took my Xanax, the gift of pharmacology that makes air travel possible for panic-prone fliers such as myself.

Then the flight was delayed. Which I didn't realize, because my Xanax - lovely, panic-quelling miracle that it is - also puts me out like a light. But I heard the boarding announcement. I got up. I got on the plane. And then the Xanax wore off. It wore off just as we were coming into DC's National Airport, one of the nastiest approaches in US airspace. All bouncy and twisty and crazy-making. And, unknowingly Xanax-free, I had my first panic attack in a decade.

I was lucky. I was sitting in the back row of the airplane, all by myself. So the plane bounced. I panicked. No one noticed. The plane landed. I made myself stand up and put on my coat. I calmly walked to the baggage claim and I picked up my bag. I walked out the door. I met an old friend who'd come to give me a ride home. Like the gentleman he is, he stepped out of his car to put my bag in the trunk. And my competent, 43-year-old self immediately collapsed into a shaky, snivelly, post-panicky mess.

Poor fella gave me a hug, even though it was about 12 degrees outside and all he really wanted was a hamburger because my late flight had delayed his already well delayed dinner. Good man. Good friend. And it worked. Shaky snivelling stopped. Panic abated. Though I'll admit it was something like 2:00 a.m. before I finally settled down enough to sleep.

Nice to know a good hug makes an effective Xanax substitute when you need one, though.

PS: Here's wishing a very happy 8th birthday to my diva!

1 comment:

  1. If it works for you, fine. But most people find Xanax does nothing to help or makes flying worse.

    Research at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9299803 says it increases panic when flying.

    Most forms of help are unreliable. For solid help, see the video on this at http://fearofflying.com/store/free-video.shtml